Tribune Publishing on Monday offered employee buyouts, citing a need to prepare for “industry-wide revenue challenges.”
In an email to employees, Tribune Publishing CEO and President Tim Knight wrote the company will offer buyouts to employees with eight or more years of experience.
“While it is our desire to retain all of our talented employees, we must confront and plan for the significant financial hurdles ahead,” Knight wrote.
The buyouts come just months after New York hedge fund Alden Global Capital became the largest shareholder in Tribune Publishing. The hedge fund’s 32% ownership stake has worried some Tribune staffers because of Alden’s reputation for cost-cutting.
“It feels like it’s just more of the same: new owner, but the same short-term thinking, same lack of appetite for investment in news-gathering,” said Charlie J. Johnson, vice president of the Tribune/RedEye unit of the Chicago Tribune Guild.
Johnson said the union will bargain with ownership about the details of what the buyout offers will look like.
“We are going to look at whatever terms are offered and make sure they are good ones,” Johnson said.
The Chicago Tribune Guild issued a statement:
We’re still learning about the buyout offer company executives announced this morning and gathering the information we need to help our members make good decisions. We formed this union to advocate for journalists, and we plan to keep pushing for fair treatment for our members, even when that means looking out for their interests as they decide whether to leave the company. What we know for certain is that this company, our readers and our journalists would be best served by a long-term investment in sustainable, high-quality journalism. We remain focused on winning that.
A spokesman for Tribune Publishing declined to comment.
Knight said the company needs to make cuts as revenue from its print titles, commercial manufacturing and distribution business continues to decline.
“Since we remain committed to extending the life of those products and services and to serving our home delivery subscribers, we need to anticipate continued print revenue declines by reducing our expenses.”
Headquartered in Chicago, Tribune Publishing owns daily newspapers around the country including the Chicago Tribune, the Orlando Sentinel, the New York Daily News and the Baltimore Sun.